If you’re a business analyst with experience in variations of process improvements, you might want to consider a changeover to business process management. Working in BPM provides you with a deeper understanding of business domains and can be viewed as a solid background for development into a department or operations leader, or an executive or consultant.
Let’s look at the roles of BA and BPM, compare and contrast them, and highlight how a BA can enter the field of process management.
BA and BPM
As stated in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), a business analyst is “any person who performs business analysis activities, no matter what their job title or organizational role may be.” In other words, a business analyst is anyone working to study the organization itself and the stakeholders’ needs and requirements in order to find the most-recommended solutions to current and future problems. Although it’s not a rule, a BA is usually a member of a project team working on the creation of informational systems. Thus, the “solutions” mentioned above are generally expected to be pieces of software delivering certain value. BAs are often expected to be doing systems analysis, requirements engineering and management in software related projects. (Often these people are called “business systems analysts.”)
Parallel to that, the Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM CBOK) defines BPM as “a disciplined approach to identify, design, execute, document, measure, monitor, and control both automated and non-automated business processes to achieve consistent, targeted results aligned with an organization’s strategic goals.”
Applicability of BA Skills to BPM
If you’ve worked with business processes, then you already have skills that can overlap with BPM.
All senior level BAs should be generally familiar with BPM processes. Within the systems development life cycle (SDLC), the BA is really the liaison between IT or outside service providers and the business side of an enterprise.
A BA’s skill set, thoroughly covered in BABOK, is divided into six knowledge areas–business analysis planning and monitoring; elicitation; requirements management and communication; enterprise analysis; requirements analysis; solution assessment and validation–plus a set of supporting techniques.
Ultimately every knowledge area may be utilized in the sphere of BPM, divided into the following eight areas: business process management; process modeling; process analysis; process design; process performance measurement; process transformation; process organization; and enterprise process management.
And we haven’t even covered the BA’s soft skills:
- See the forest for the trees and reveal the best possible solutions to real problems.
- Establish and maintain a positive working environment and atmosphere of trust between stakeholders.
- Encourage people to do their best in achieving common goals.
- Manage communication and expectations.
- Understand the business domain of an organization.
Main Steps to Take
When considering BPM, BAs need to start thinking more broadly and take into account the whole company and how it functions, not just the informational systems. It may be helpful to try reading some introductory books to get the general overview of the profession and corresponding tasks. There are plenty of fundamental writings on the field. Simply searching “business process management” on Amazon can get you started.
Once you’ve got a general understanding, try putting some BPM concepts into practice. For example, a BA may start their own investigation by examining existing processes. Try to use process diagrams in your requirements documentation and while communicating with stakeholders.
Also, get involved in BPM-related projects as a BA, or combine the roles of a BA and BPM practitioner.
A BA’s skill set and experience is a great starting point for a BPM career. Ultimately every knowledge area of a business analyst may be utilized in the BPM sphere. But first you need to:
- Decide if this is a move you want to make.
- Start thinking more broadly.
- Start reading specialized literature and join a BPM organization.
- Use your newfound knowledge in your current work.
- Go seek a BPM vacancy, in your present company or elsewhere.
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